#Chapter 230: Too Late
“I won’t let you leave my side,” Enzo whispered. His voice was a low growl, and his eyes flashed an even brighter red as he spoke. I knew that he was serious, and after the fact that we were almost caught by what sounded like a guard, maybe he was right. Maybe it was better if we stuck together in case something bad happened.
I was just worried that once we rescued Richard, Selena would only become more agitated once she found out and she would either strengthen her defenses so we couldn’t save the Alpha King, or she would come after us and stop us before we ever were even able to come back.
Either way, it didn’t matter anymore. What Luke said next only solidified that.
“This entire place is shrouded in magic,” he whispered, sounding stern as he looked at me. “Even if you’re able to get the Alpha King to recognize you, Selena’s claws are probably already dug in too deep. It would take days, maybe even weeks, to break the spell she has on him; she’s had years to perfect her tactics over him, and even though he’s your biological father, you don’t have the power of the fated mate bond that you have with Enzo. It’s too risky, and we need to focus on getting out of here with Richard first. We can come back once he’s safe.”
I nodded. Although it hurt to have to come back with the possibility that Selena could even possibly kill our
father in the meantime, Luke and Enzo were right. I felt like a bit of an idiot for even considering the possibility that I could handle a mission like that on my own, and I didn’t want to leave Luke and Enzo alone if Selena showed up. I had already made up my mind that I needed to be the one to stop Selena, and I could never live with myself if she did something to them while I was trying to deal with the Alpha King.
“Okay,” I whispered, feeling a bit embarrassed. “Let’s go.”
I took Enzo’s hand again as Luke quietly cracked the door open and peered out both ways, swiveling his head left and right to make sure that the coast was clear before he slipped out. Enzo and I followed, and the three of us continued our journey through the dark, maze-like mansion.
We quietly tiptoed down several more winding corridors before finally coming to a narrow set of stairs that looked like they were hardly used. They were located at the end of an equally narrow hallway that wasn’t even wide enough for us to walk next to each other, so we had to walk in a single file line. Even then, however, I continued to hold Enzo’s hand. His grip on my hand was tight, as though he expected me to be torn away from him at any moment.
While we walked, I wished that our reunion could have been more emotional. I wished that we could have had more time to be with each other. I wished that we were safely back in our dorms, without the threat of Selena coming after us. But, at the very least, I was glad to have Enzo back; and I was even more glad to know that Selena couldn’t manipulate him again after this.
And if I pretended that there wasn’t a likely possibility that Selena and I would die tonight, I could imagine that everything was okay.
But it wasn’t.
Slowly, the three of us made our way up the stairs. The steps were creaky, and we all had to walk with painstaking care so as not to make too much noise. It was easy for Luke and myself to walk up the stairs without causing them to creak too much, but Enzo was big and heavy from all of the muscle in his body, and several times we had to stop and cringe, hoping that no one heard the creaks.
Thankfully, no one ever came.
Finally, we made it to the top of the steps after what felt like an eternity and came out into another, wider hallway. There was a balcony inside that looked out over the first floor below us, which allowed us to see our surroundings a bit more. We could see that there were two guards standing in the entryway below, facing the front door. They were talking in hushed voices, and were clearly not paying too much attention, which allowed us to quietly sneak by without them noticing our presence.
Once we were out of eyeshot of the guards, Enzo silently pointed down another long hallway. This one was lined with large windows on either side that had curved designs etched into the glass, causing the light from the full moon to cast patterns on the floor. The three of us quickly made our way down the hallway, taking care not to be seen through the large windows in case anyone was looking, and then came to a point where the hallway branched off into two directions.
“I think his bedroom is down this way,” Enzo whispered, his voice so low it sounded like nothing more than a gentle gust of wind. He pointed to the right, where the corridor went straight on until it reached a dead end with a large alcove that contained a marble statue, and Luke and I silently followed him. As we walked down the hallway, each side was lined with a few large, heavy wooden doors. Enzo paused at each one, chewing his lip nervously; clearly, he didn’t know exactly which room belonged to his father. But when we came to the last door in the hallway, I could tell that he sensed his father inside, and he seemed much more confident now.
Enzo glanced over and Luke and I. We both nodded, then watched as he slowly turned the doorknob and opened the door.
Inside the large room, with its high, arched ceiling and large canopy bed, a low fire glowed in the fireplace. It seemed as though the fire hadn’t been tended to in some time, and was getting close to being nothing but embers. The bed, which was made out of what looked like mahogany wood with ornate spiral designs carved into the four tall posts, had a heavy drapery over the top that came down and covered the bed.
Someone was sleeping in that bed, but none of us could see just yet who it was.
Slowly, Enzo moved forward and reached out for the curtain on the bed. Luke and I stood by the doorway, holding our breath with wide eyes as we watched Enzo slowly pull back the curtain. It felt like an eternity passed, and the entire time I felt as though Selena would come up behind me at any moment and grab me around the neck.
Suddenly, recognition flashed across. his face. He turned to look at Luke and I and nodded, then reached into the bed to wake his father up. I slowly walked over to see, but when I did, my face fell and my heart sank into the depths of my stomach. A gasp escaped my throat. Enzo’s hands began to shake violently, and he stumbled backwards, clamping a hand over his mouth as his eyes widened.
Richard was alive; I could hear him breathing gently, but it wasn’t a solid and steady form of breathing. It was what I learned in medical school to be known as the “death rattle”; when a person’s lungs begin to fill with fluid shortly before death.
I leaned closer to get a better look, and when I did, my fears were only confirmed.
Richard’s face was gaunt and pale. His eyes were half open, but they were clouded over and looked like they were made of glass. His body was so thin I could see his collar bones protruding even through his shirt.
Enzo’s father was on the verge of death, and there was no stopping it now. He had an hour, maybe two, left to live.
That was why Selena hadn’t come after us: she already knew that our rescue mission would fail.
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